How To Be Confident - Especially When You Don't Feel Like It

In our final extract from the This Book Will Make You... series, Dr Jessamy Hibberd and Jo Usmar show you how to be confident and on top of your game...

Lacking confidence occasionally is totally normal. It’s a natural response to all manner of events, thoughts, beliefs or demands placed upon you by others and that you place upon yourself.

Everyone is different and how people deal with insecurity varies hugely, but human beings are designed to experience the full spectrum of emotions – everything from over-confidence bordering on egotism to crippling self-doubt.

It's important to embrace each side of the spectrum, as the constant changes between ups and downs only strengthen the base of your personality and the way you perceive yourself. Think of your occasional lack of confidence as a challenge, not your enemy. If tackled with a positive attitude it could yield some serious results, such as determination and success.

Confidence is intrinsically tangled up with how you judge your ability to cope with whatever life throws at you. If you believe you’re lacking in any way your outlook about everything can be tinged with grey, leading to a tendency to feel anxious, stressed and even depressed. You’ll devalue your achievements and alter your goals and ambitions to reflect your insecurity.

Appreciate the good things. A key part of building confidence is to take pride and pleasure in your achievements and to give yourself credit for what you’ve done well. You’ve spent far too long chastising yourself for your supposed failures and haven’t paid nearly enough (if any) attention to the stuff that’s been ticking along all fine and dandy.

You’re so used to ignoring your good points that you probably believe thinking about them at all is in some way arrogant or egotistical. Well, it’s not. Recognising your positive attributes isn’t in anyway conceited, it’s actually really important. You need to know what your strengths are in order to put yourself in the best possible position to achieve what you want to.

To feel truly confident you can’t be constantly reliant on other people: you’ll only ever feel as good as someone else makes you feel, which is a very precarious way to live. Approval from the people you look up to should always be an added bonus and never the basis for your valuations of self-worth.

  • Think of the last time you did something well. Perhaps you got a good result, some excellent feedback, cooked a wonderful dinner or made a friend laugh. How did it make you feel?
  • Now roughly estimate how much time you spent thinking about this. Ten minutes? Fifteen? Two? Next, think of the last thing you did badly or that didn’t go as well as you wanted it to.
  • Maybe you rushed a piece of work or argued with your partner. How did it make you feel? Now roughly estimate how much time you spent thinking about this. An hour? A day? A week?
  • It’s not fair, but your negative biases will make all the things that you don’t like about yourself – what you see as your faults – jump out and eclipse all your strengths.
  • From now on make a conscious effort to bring the good things kicking and screaming to the forefront of your mind. Note them down and remind yourself of them whenever you’re feeling insecure.

This Book Will Make You Confident by Dr Jessamy Hibberd and Jo Usmar (published by Quercus Books) is out now.